Undo for Capture Time


Today’s Question: I went to correct the capture time for a batch of photos captured after forgetting to change the time on my camera. But Lightroom tells me that I can’t undo this adjustment. If I make a mistake in correcting the time for these photos, am I just out of luck?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You won’t be out of luck. While you can’t simply undo the change in capture time once it has been applied, you can apply an additional adjustment to correct the time for your photos.

More Detail: For example, let’s assume a situation where you travel from New York to Europe, but you forget to change the time on your camera upon arrival. You can use Lightroom (among other software tools) to correct the capture time for your photos. In most cases the simple time zone adjustment option will work well.

In this example, let’s assume that you needed to shift the capture time for the photos by six hours, but you accidentally added eight hours to the capture time instead. Once you’ve actually applied that capture time correction in Lightroom, you can’t simply use the Undo command to take a step backward and start over.

However, you can simply apply an additional adjustment to compensate. So in this example after applying a correction that added eight hours to the capture time for each photo, you could simply apply a second correction that subtracted two hours from the capture time for the same photos. The net difference would be an increase of six hours for the capture time for all of the photos.

It is worth noting that by default Lightroom will only apply these changes to the capture time within the catalog, so the metadata for the image files on your hard drive won’t actually be updated. If you want to save those changes to the actual photos you’ll need to enable two settings within the Catalog Settings dialog.

You can find the Catalog Settings dialog on the Lightroom menu on the Macintosh version or on the Edit menu on the Windows version. On the Metadata tab you’ll find two checkboxes that you’ll need to turn on if you want Lightroom to save capture time changes to the actual files on your hard drive. Those are the “Write date or time changes into proprietary raw files” and “Automatically write changes into XMP”.